Tobold's Blog
Friday, February 16, 2007
MazzleUI - avoiding the Mazzlegasm

A reader asked me to spread the word about his modification of a mod. Which isn't normally something I would do. But the whole story is so hilarious that I'll just post his letter here verbatim:
Anyway - you might have heard of the new addon MazzleUI. It's a great addon - however, it has one problem. When you install it or update it (which happens quite frequently), it takes control of your character, and forces you to /yell "I've had an intense Mazzlegasm" across an entire zone.

For some reason, the maintainer of the mod, Mazzlefizz, absolutely insists that this is a vital part of the mod, and won't install a switch in the code to turn it off, or even allow anyone to post on the mod's forums with instructions on how to remove the /yell.

So I've written a small utility, which just patches the code to avoid the /yell. It doesn't redistribute any code from MazzleUI - it just does a diff on the text and changes one line.

I've put it up at

Obviously, this normally wouldn't be news. Just post it on the mod site and be done.

But unfortunately, Mazzlefizz is doing his best to make it as hard as possible for users of his mod to avoid shouting about Mazzlegasms, and hence a lot of innocent users are being forced to spam their servers, and are getting subsequently flamed, ignored or even reported!

I'd totally understand if you felt this still wasn't news! But if you did feel it was worth a mention - I'm not expecting an entire post, just a one-liner would be fantastic - that would be great in helping to spread the word so that people get a chance to check out this mod fairly!

(BTW - if you do mention it, could you not mention my name or email address? Mazzlefizz seems very serious - almost irrationally so - about persuing anyone sharing this information, and I don't want flames landing in my main inbox.)
Besides the obvious humorous value, the post raises an interesting question about the right to modify a mod. When I did PvP end of last year, I had found a great mod that was able to record when graveyards in Alterac Valley had been taken, and counted how long they still needed to be held before switching ownership. It had the option to inform other players about these times, either by say or by battleground chat. But it did so in French. As these mods are written in normal text, it wasn't difficult for me to find the lines for the text output and change them to English. And I didn't even think that somebody distributing his code in clear text and for free might object to other people modifying it, at least not if it was just for their own use. (Modifying it to claim that I had written it and redistributing it would obviously have been a totally different case)

But apparently Mazzlefizz strongly objects to anyone modifying his mod for personal use. You either use it including the annoying zone-wide yell (aka advertising for the mod), or not at all. Does he have the right to do that to his users? Do his users have the right to remove the advertising, seeing how it could get them into trouble? To me that case seems very similar to using a popup blocker, which allows you to see websites without the popup advertising they use to finance themselves. I couldn't find any "legal terms" on WoWInterface, the site hosting the UI, stating you *can't* modify the mods you download. Are WoW addons kind of "open source"? I don't know, I've been criticized for being notoriously bad with legal questions, and I have no legal training whatsoever. But feel free to discuss.
Mods are technically copyright their creators. However, they can't be packaged up in executable files - which provides quite a lot of security by obscurity - so most people don't bother trying to enforce it further than 'put my name on it if you modify it, thanks!'

I've read Blizzard's EULA, several times, and have never noticed them claim rights over mods (though I may have missed it, lawyerese makes my eyes glaze over).
Just curious what MazzleUI does? (besides make you yell silliness)

cant look up at work. or would of done leg work myself.

Not using it myself, but apparently the MazzleUI is a combination of a redesigned user interface for WoW with some handy additional functions. Or to copy the description from WoWInterface: "MazzleUI is a comprehensive, customized user interface for the World of Warcraft that attempts to be clean, symmetrical, provides lots of information, use minimal space and be highly efficient. It is extremely easy to set-up, use and learn. It is a compilation with a several custom add-ons and many modified ones. It has several novel features, most notable add-ons that manage and configure the setup and performance of other add-ons, that make it qualitatively different than any other UI released to date."
Afraid I'm showing my immaturity here, but I think that's hilarious that he's trying to stop people from modifying his UI and taking out the joke that he installed. Good for him.

As for the legal ramifications? I can't imagine that a) Creators of UI have any true rights to keep people from modifying it, and b) That there is a single person who would pursue legally trying to stop people from modifying their free code. Most people don't throw money away on lawsuits with no visible way to make a profit.

He's just a guy with a twisted sense of humor who's taking some time to bust some people's chops. Sounds funny to me.
That mazzleUI ist quite an interesting story. This mod was in development for way more than one year. It started as a compilation of Discord mods, by far the most vibrant WoW mod for month and an new framework of it's own, miserably out of business now. Visually MazzleUI hasn't changed much. It still is primarily an eyecandy skin, for the basic UI, less new functions, way more new graphics. It adds 3D models for character frames and lays out any element for you. So you install it and your set. No tweaking, not option juggling.

From what i further know it switched from Discord mods to Ace as its base. Looks to me, as if this thing is a compilation of Ace mods, predefined and layed out for different settings.

Seeing this mazzleUI author now crying for people cracking his stuff makes me smile, cause he never ever started from the ground up, but also modded other peoples work. And yes i know, Mazzle ditched Discord and switched to other but nevertheless. Oh and by the way, form a lil more UI design point of view, Mazzle fails. It's so popular cause it's easy to handle and well cared. No one likes to manually update their gazillions of mods. That's why even i mostly fall back to Ace thingies: those things are so easy to update.

As for legal questions, probably no one really knows and cares? There is one WoW mod team, who charges real money for their work. It's called RDX or something like this and i must admit, their stuff is quite different and good, not worth to charge for though, and i doubt that charging for MMO mods in general is legal. Way more interesting is this trend of studios ripping of ideas of their games mod authors. I lost track how much old WoW UI mods now are part of the basic UI. No one of those authors ever did get any credit for it and that is a shame.
A cursory glance at the mod shows that it really isn't his work. The only thing he seems to have done is intertwine others work into a functioning single unit.

Chrismue hit it on the head and it is a sad tale. Unfortunately he has received even more coverage because of it :P Some people know how to work the community.
sorry for the trolling, but that guy is a douchebag...
a narcisistic, rude douchebag.
don't bother to remove the stupid message... just uninstall the mod and get something by a less big headed, immature mod-developer.
I used mazzle, its changes the whole layout of your ui. Not bad, but it wasn't to my taste. It had a bunch of neat mods with it that did misc things, dps meter, bags, etc...

I rememeber the first time I had an intense mazzlegasm, standing at the in of nagrand. About people typed "/yell WTF!??!" at the same time.
Naah - it really is a great mod! It's the first major UI improvement I've installed that was good enough I've kept it.

Yeah, it's basically a compilation. But it's good, and if you don't like the Mazzlegasm message, it's easy enough to take out.
I briefly shudder when someone brings up legal issues like this. They're generally not defined and current intellectual property (IP) law is ill-suited (imo) to handle them.

For example, although Roger is correct in that Copyright law would vest the mod's coders with rights, the mod is only operational in concert with Blizzard's IP. That is, although those rights might exist, they're a little gray since Blizzard could rightfully prohibit someone from using the mod. Or Blizzard could take what it likes and integrate it into the game without giving credit. Assuming Bliz recodes in the second example, neither is strictly illegal nor prohibited under IP law.

It's an extremely gray area that is currently trumped by the big dog (i.e., the gods of that gaming world). I sincerely doubt Mazzle could rightfully hold up another's external mod that interfaces with his collection. That's not to say many sites won't take it down anyways to avoid conflict.
The only context that would allow any legal actions against a modder of a mod would be if he was to advertise the product as his own if more then 50% of the mod was someone else's work. How ever in this case since Mazzles work is based almost wholly on some one elses work and all he did was make it intergrated, he would have no recousre what so ever. In fact the original creaters of the ACE backbone of his mods would have legal( albeit small) rights to protect their work from mazzle and this other person who modified the mazzle modified mod. However since this all was made to run on blizzards machine, they could quite esily tell them their mods are illegal and needs to be pulled out.

How can a modder stop other modders from modding his mod?

Answer: He cant and has no right to unless the code is propreitery. Most mods are open. This one being so. Can't beat all this free publicity though.
If MazzleUI could modify addons he got elsewhere, why can't others modify his as well? What is even odd is there are so MANY addons better than this spamming crap out there, why do people still bother to use it? Or, even bother to mod it to remove the spam? Should leave it alone to rot. Seriously, making an addon to do things that users do not desire or have no control over is just sad.
Mazzle just posted that thanks to a "helpful suggestion" from Blizzard his next version will have a Mazzlegasm deactivation switch.

BTW it's a really good compilation, I recommend it.
Blizzard is reading Tobold's Blog, I tell ya.
Shuck's it all ends happily so. I was anticipating a juicy flame war when Mazzle spotted Tobolds post. Ah well serves me right for thinking bad thoughts.
I thought the reply about Blizzard taking mod code and integrating into their default UI was interesting, in that this has already happened several times (LFG UI, SCT).

Since there are several mods out there that are released under the GPL, what happens if Blizzard tried to integrate such a mod into WoW? Does WoW become open-source? :)

One of the replies above claims that "charging money for MMO mods is not legal". This is false. Specifically for WoW, charging money for a mod is against the EULA, but that's very different from being illegal! Also there are ways to get around this, e.g. WoWEcon is a mod (free of course) with functions similiar to Auctioneer. However is also offers a paid service which provides graphs and analysis of AH prices.

Finally, about the original subject - I tried MuzzleUI for a while. As others have noted, it's a compilation, meaning little of it is the work of the actual MuzzleUI author. In any case I found several aspects of it annoying, especially the buttons interface/layout, and dropped it. I'm still looking for a good/easy way to handle and update all my mods :)
You know.... the MAzzleUI isn't that good anymore, either. You would think a "core" distro would let you run it without any additionals... or at least TELL you about additionals dependencies it would need. But No, MazzleUI doesn't.

And to make it even worse.... The bloke plays a frecking GNOME which got to be the ultimate insult to anyone
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